Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-474
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-474

  09 Feb 2021

09 Feb 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Ice nucleation by viruses and their potential for cloud glaciation

Michael P. Adams1,, Nina S. Atanasova2,3,, Svetlana Sofieva2,3, Janne Ravantti3, Aino Heikkinen2,a, Zoé Brasseur4, Jonathan Duplissy4,5, Dennis H. Bamford3, and Benjamin J. Murray1 Michael P. Adams et al.
  • 1Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Molecular and Integrative Biosciences Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research / Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Helsinki Institute of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • Authors contributed equally to the work
  • anow at: the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, HiLIFE, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. In order to effectively predict the formation of ice in clouds we need to know which subsets of aerosol particles are effective at nucleating ice, how they are distributed and where they are from. A large proportion of ice-nucleating particles (INPs) in many locations are likely of biological origin, and some INPs are extremely small being just tens of nanometers in size. The identity and sources of such INPs are not well characterized. Here, we show that several different types of virus particles can nucleate ice, with up to about one in twenty million virus particles able to nucleate ice at −20 °C. In terms of the impact on cloud glaciation, the ice-nucleating ability (the fraction which are ice nucleation active as a function of temperature) taken together with typical virus particle concentrations in the atmosphere lead to the conclusion that virus particles make a minor contribution to the atmospheric ice-nucleating particle population in the terrestrial influenced atmosphere. However, they cannot be ruled out as being important in the remote marine atmosphere. It is striking that virus particles have an ice-nucleating activity and further work should be done to explore other types of viruses for both their ice-nucleating potential and to understand the mechanism by which viruses nucleate ice.

Michael P. Adams et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2020-474', Anonymous Referee #1, 03 Mar 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Benjamin Murray, 14 Apr 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on bg-2020-474', Anonymous Referee #2, 09 Mar 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Benjamin Murray, 14 Apr 2021

Michael P. Adams et al.

Michael P. Adams et al.

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Short summary
The formation of ice in clouds is critically important for the planet's climate. Hence, we need to know which aerosol types nucleate ice and how effectively they do so. Here we show that virus particles, with a range of architectures, nucleate ice when immersed in supercooled water. However, we also show that they only make a minor contribution to the ice-nucleating particle population in the terrestrial atmosphere, but cannot rule them out as being important in the marine environment.
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